Cards build on MLB's best record

Sunday, August 8, 2004

St. Louis defeated the Mets 6-4 for its third straight victory.By R.B. Fallstrom

The Associated Press

ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals rallied for yet another win just as they were completing a trade for star outfielder Larry Walker.

Not a bad night in St. Louis.

"He's a great player," slugger Albert Pujols said. "We just got better."

Pujols' third hit snapped a seventh-inning tie, and Matt Morris followed another shaky outing with a strong one, helping the Cardinals beat the New York Mets 6-4 Friday night.

The Cardinals, who won for the 14th time in 18 games, improved the NL's best offense by adding Walker in a trade with Colorado for Class-A closer Jason Burch and two minor league players to be named.

Walker fills the only void in the lineup for a team that leads the NL with a .281 average, helping St. Louis to a major league-best 70-38 record. The Cardinals have used a variety of players in left field, and now right fielder Reggie Sanders probably will move to left to make room for Walker.

Sanders didn't seem to mind changing positions.

"It's good to get a proven veteran, a guy that you fear at the plate, and definitely a great outfielder," Sanders said. "I'm here to do whatever I need to do."

Pujols is 12-for-28 (.429) during a six-game hitting streak with two homers, including a game-winner in the ninth against the Expos on Wednesday. This time, his hit off Tom Glavine helped end the Mets' three-game winning streak.

"A guy like Glavine, it's like facing (Greg) Maddux," Pujols said. "You won't beat those guys with a homer, you have to beat them with a bunch of singles the other way and up the middle, and that was our plan tonight."

Glavine said Pujols hit a changeup two feet outside for his RBI single in the sixth, and did it again in the seventh after he had pounded him with inside pitches.

"I thought if I throw the same changeup right here, having established inside, there's no way he's going to hit it again," Glavine said. "And he did. That's why he's a great hitter and a great player."

Mike Cameron and Richard Hidalgo hit consecutive solo homers off Kiko Calero in the ninth. Jason Isringhausen got two outs for his 29th save in 34 chances.

Cliff Floyd hit a two-run homer, his 15th, off Morris for the game's first runs in the sixth.

But the Cardinals rallied to tie it while the trade for Walker, a three-time NL batting champion, was being announced.

Sanders, who returned to the lineup after missing five games with a ribcage injury, played a role in the two-run sixth. His infield hit advanced Pujols to third, and he scored on Hector Luna's sacrifice fly to tie it at 2.

The inning featured a perfect bunt by Jim Edmonds. Third baseman David Wright allowed the ball to roll and it stopped directly in the middle of the baseline near the bag.

Morris reached on shortstop Kaz Matsui's two-base throwing error to start the seventh. Pinch-runner Marlon Anderson went to third on a sacrifice and scored on Pujols' two-out hit.

The Cardinals opened it up in the eighth with RBI singles by pinch-hitter Tony Womack, Roger Cedeno and So Taguchi -- all off Mike DeJean.

Morris (12-7) worked seven innings, allowing two runs on five hits with three strikeouts and two walks. He's been off and on his last five starts, allowing three earned runs in 22 innings in victories at Cincinnati and against the Giants.

"He always responds," manager Tony La Russa said. "He's had a hiccup or two this year but we have great confidence in Matt."

Two of his last five starts have been poor. He lasted a total of 2 1-3 innings, giving up 15 runs, in losses to Chicago on July 20 and at San Francisco on July 31 -- his last start.

Glavine (8-10) allowed four runs, three earned, and eight hits in 7 1-3 innings. He escaped a bases-loaded jam in the first and picked off two runners, but gave up two runs and four hits in the sixth.

Glavine fell to 1-8 in his last nine starts and 16-6 with a 3.70 ERA in his career against the Cardinals. This was his first loss against St. Louis since May 4, 2001, in Atlanta when he was with the Braves.

"I guess if it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have any," Glavine said. "They obviously have a great club and they keep coming at you, forcing you to make pitches."

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